I don’t have a witty ending to that statement. But it would probably be something like “… the writer gets a beer.”
Anyway, what happens when you want to be writing, but the ideas won’t come? When you have a character that needs attention but no ficlets to write?
Sometimes things just need to incubate a little longer. Wait a bit and see what happens. Sometimes, however, even with waiting, you have the desire to write and no concrete direction to take your writing.
I suffer from this a lot. It’s why I don’t write novels – I don’t really do well with big ideas. I get fragments and then can’t plot them into something coherent. To tell the truth, I can’t plot my way out of a brown paper sack. (This is a reason I often write fic with friends. I’m good at execution, but not always great with the ideas. This way I can pick their brains. I’m like a plot zombie.)
There are a few cures for assorted brain block that I like.
Brainstorming is good – and I like using something like Tami’s method of mind mapping. She explains it really well, but basically when you sit down and you think you have no ideas, just start writing things down. Tami does this in a notebook, I usually do it in a word document. I type faster than I write, and as pro-handwriting as I am, it just works better for me to be thinking in text instead of trying to scribble things out fast enough. In the end, I get something like a long list of items, many with bullet points.
Frequently when I do this, I sit down with no ideas and turn around and have five or ten. Poof! Like magic. Not all those ideas will turn into fic, but that doesn’t matter. The point is to get them written down.
If I’m feeling particularly stuck on how to start, I usually do something like freewriting (sometimes I do this after I brainstorm a bit, to give me a direction).
Freewriting is especially useful if I have a character who is being shy about showing up. I just start typing, regardless of where it might be in the overall story or whether it’s “good” or not, and see what happens. The two posts that are upcoming from Annata got started this way. I’m not the best writer when it comes to roguish things and close combat – I am inherently un-sneaky. Sneaky things intimidate me as a writer. Writing these ficlets, I decided that if I needed sneaky, I’d just let Annata do it. So I just started writing. Both times the initial trepidation wore off once the actual character got into her stride, and I’m pleased with the final turnout. *
More than anything else, I talk with other writers. Sometimes just getting ideas out in conversation is enough to spark a whole series of ficlets. (I try to make sure I’m available for idea-bouncing as well, since it’s only fair to return the favor.)
All of these methods work for blogging, or any kind of writing really. The idea is to get around your inner editor, who rejects ideas before you get a chance to explore them. Letting your brain wander through your fingers is therapeutic, in a way, since it bypasses the critical response that so frequently kills writerly motivation. For me, they get the most use in getting me started on writing ficlets.
What are your tricks for the “getting started” part of writing? How do you break through whatever brain blocks you have to get things written, be they blog post, ficlet, or novel?
*The Heads I Win ficlets will be posted here later this week. I’m still working on the last bit, and how it fits into the greater guild story.
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